My Dad has always been fond of sharing the caveat that “Nobody ever gave away anything worth having for free.”
(Dad is not a writer, store manger, or Mary Kay Consultant.)
Really? Are high price tags an accurate assessment of quality? Is FREE really just another name for junk?
Okay, then, what’s the deal with FREE?
No question, there’s plenty of free
crap stuff being offered around these days, but it’s good to remember that when it comes to free, it is definitely not a case of ONSIZE FITS All. For instance, a well intentioned assessment of FREE would be to consider it as something of a birth announcement– “Lookie lookie, see my newborn pride and joy, isn’t she a beauty?”
There are of course certain degrees of free, but in order for FREE to serve it’s intended purpose of “Try it, you’ll like it,” the object in question needs to be compatible with the hype, or at least good enough to keep everyone from whispering that you have an absolutely hideous baby.
The extender of FREE has to keep in mind that they are in fact aiming a spotlight that will show all the seams and dangling threads in their garment. So while you may be offering something for FREE, you as the giver, must wholeheartedly believe it’s actually worth a million bucks. Thus, in order for FREE to translate into true love and future sales where dollars are exchanged and bank accounts padded, this FREE something must ideally translate into being delicious, memorable, or decidedly unforgettable.
For instance, those FREE food samples many of us are so fond of, I ask you, is that friendly food sample server at Trader Joe’s serving up bottom-of-the-freezer-ignored-to-death items that otherwise haven’t sold? Does the store manager think that offering free samples is a genius plan for cleaning out the soy cocktail weenies wrapped in seaweed that nobody is buying? ” (Note, that such reasoning as they apply to our at home food stuffs do not in any way relate to the discussion at hand, and such methods are not necessarily wrong or otherwise discouraged.) Or, is it actually that someone in the Trader Joe’s empire is banking on a hunch that one miniature taste of Asiago or Sundried Tomato Chicken Sausage will lead to true and forever love? (Btw, YES, YES it will!)
At their best, FREE samples allow us to taste the new foodie treats coming on the scene before making the commitment to buy; slather on the coconut oil lotion to see if it really does make us look ten years younger; read an unknown author’s work to determine if their words nest comfortably in our brains. All this without ever having to make a commitment!
And yet, why then, all the hostility and distrust toward some FREE items, eBooks being a prime example. There have been more than a few scathing comments made in regard to free book promotions and ongoing rants about crappy books crowding the market and causing enormous literary jams when crossing the street contrare to traditionally sold books. Is it really true that if something is free there must be something wrong with it? That anything of value warrents a price tag?
I think the answer resides within the actual purpose of FREE. With food it’s about engaging taste-buds, while with personal products, winners are those that deliver visible results (or that smell really really good.). And when it comes to books, well maybe it’s not as convoluted or diabolical as it might appear to some.
First the disclaimer, YES, there are some hideous, ghastly, and retch worthy books turning up in the FREE zone, but lets keep in mind that there are plenty of the same with a price tag on the cover. Consider that an author offering a book for FREE is most often doing so because their name is not Stephen King, thus having their moniker on the spine of a book means diddly-doo to the book buying public, and they might as well be the invisible man peddling face cream. But that’s not even the most important thing, because first and foremost is an author’s passionate faith
fingers crossed prayerful hope that once experienced, their books will no longer simply be a love story waiting to happen, but rather a lifetime commitment.
And if it doesn’t? If the sparks fail to ignite and an a reader feels compelled to break-off the engagement and return to taking out other blind dates? No problem! It’s painless and easy to DELETE what doesn’t entice or appeal, because, hey, it was FREE to begin with.
What do you think of FREE? Love, hate, or distrust it?